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Does Storage Cost (TCO) Matter to Anyone Anymore or is it just all about Cloud?

08/09/2021

Object Matrix used to market MatrixStore, our on-prem object storage / private cloud solution, using arguments around total cost of ownership (TCO) to our advantage. The argument for our product MatrixStore went: you can buy LTO tapes for pennies, but by the time you've managed it, waited to get your data back, lost opportunities to re-use data, migrated data between multiple LTO versions, and potentially lost data then the extra cost of an HDD based media library won't be extra at all - the time you'll have saved with a self-managing solution and the value of the assets you managed to reuse will pay you back in over and over .

And in general, CTOs liked using those TCO arguments: justifying to the board why a buying decision was being made using hard calculations: the arguments suited Object Matrix very well.

However, these are my top 3 reasons why TCO has fallen out of favour for buyers:

Spurious calculation criteria

Board's started shouting cloud solves everything (even when it doesn't)

Ultimately functionality is king

Taking these in turn. The first reason TCO often isn't used is there is no single definition of TCO. Let's face it, have you ever seen a standardised what you should and shouldn't include in TCO ? Hard to measure heuristics and future predictions are in danger of being missed and give the job of calculating TCO to two people and the likelihood is that they would come out with vastly different criteria and end calculations. In fact, they'd often use TCO just to manipulate the results to their preference. Therefore, what is the point of TCO?

The second reason TCO calculations have stopped being made is that boards woke up one day and suddenly decided the cloud is the answer to all of their problems. As a cloud vendor, as well as an on-prem vendor Object Matrix, doesn't mind that at all! But it is our belief that this cloud-first strategy is sometimes missing the point and that boards feel empowered by power plays even when they don't really understand technology.

The last reason that TCO comparison has somewhat gone away is a more valid reason in my books. Ultimately, functionality is king. Take for instance comparing using LTO to on-prem spinning disk - how can you put a TCO number on the ability to re-use an asset, incorporate it in a news item, and therefore make better programming? Sometimes one technology is chosen just simply because it can do what another one cannot. That's not a bad thing because we need to move on otherwise we get stuck in a legacy world. But this shouldn't force us into a world where we don't properly analyse the cost benefits of one technology over another:

Why We Need to Evaluate (Including TCO) More Than Ever Five problems with Cloud storage are:

Egress fees. Unpredictable and potentially expensive if you download or analyse data a lot.

Everything is an additional cost: this includes all those little changes, apps, processes you want to run in the cloud. Like paying for a flight where you need to pay to check in your luggage and for taxes - the additional costs quickly become more than the headline price.

Security is a cost; e.g., if you didn't think you need to firewall any app you run in the cloud then think again, you do. This is typically another additional cost. As are the devOps costs for individuals.

It's an unpredictable future. Do you want to data-mine your storage? It's a cost. Do you want to go multi-cloud because of outages? It's a 2x cost. You get hacked? The hacker just accessed everything without whilst you slept.

Data Sovereignty. Laws change and when data is held with a non-flexible service you are stuck.

Potential to end up with vendor tie-in. It's easy to get stuck into a vendor infrastructure, especially if the apps you use are also tied to that platform.

Lay out the above risk factors to a board and they may well decide that a full cloud strategy is either too expensive (TCO) or too risk-laden.

Object Matrix sells cloud and it sells on-prem: and as such it could be argued that we are fairly neutral about how our customers wish to work with us.

However, I find it fairly shocking just how many organisations default to cloud without taking the time out to really see if an on-prem private cloud strategy can make significant savings and can bring flexibility advantages for them.

There are valid choices out there for how to keep data secure whilst quickly accessible, and a good evaluation of TCO and benefits that take into account a complex future is needed more than ever.

Case Study ITN, a national UK award-winning news, and media production company, implemented a nearline storage cache from Object Matrix and has been using MatrixStore for over 3 years.

The MatrixStore replaced an LTO system with object storage based on a HDD platform. Implementation was well executed through a seamless migration plan. There were no unexpected costs or surprises along the way and ITN now benefits from faster, more reliable access to their media assets.

Previously, accessing their assets by tape meant a slower load process and the robot was often prime to mechanical errors. One of the great benefits ITN have found by using MatrixStore for their usage is that they don't need the full assets to be downloaded, just rough edits and clips. They make around 200 partial restores each day. There have been definite advantages of asset re-usage but also the TCO benefits over the old tape robots have been significant as well.

MatrixStore's Digital Content Governance has meant ITN can easily access, share, and distribute content stored within the cache at any time, whilst ensuring this is continually protected and is secure. Having been integrated into ITN's existing technology infrastructure, the transition was seamless, meaning the ITN te
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